AKRON In his first month in Akron, Clint Frazier has put on quite a show.
There was the home run in his first game at Canal Park, the strikeout in every fourth at-bat and of course, snapping a bat over his knee after striking out in a April 19 game against Binghamton and earning himself a bit of national attention.
It’s all part of life as a first-round draft pick and one of the top prospects in the Cleveland Indians system. Frazier and his conspicuous long, red hair have quickly become fan favorites in Akron and as for that bat-breaking incident … it’s all part of the process for the young outfielder.
“The hair is a preference … I like it longer and I can’t really help that it’s red … it brings a lot of attention to me … a lot of unnecessary attetnion. As far as my personality goes, I’ve got a fiery personality as well,” Frazier said. “That’s built-up frustration. I’m passionate about the game, but I do realize that the end result was something that took away from the team at the time and I shouldn’t have broken the bat. I’m a human, I made a mistake and I realize I don’t need to go out there and break bats, but it happened and it will happen again … it’s just my way of taking out the frustration.”
The Georgia native was selected fifth overall in the 2013 draft out of Loganville (Ga.) High School and went straight from high school to professional baseball. He admitted that growing up, due to his talent on the field, he had a lot of people telling him how good he was and that led to him believing that “everybody should have kinda bowed down to me,” but those ideas were deflated when he started playing minor-league baseball and realized that he had lessons to learn both on and off the field.
“When I came out here, I didn’t know how to interact with people. I didn’t go to college so I didn’t get to be around guys who were older than me and it humbled me quick,” Frazier said. “Being around some of these guys, they kind of help you realize you can’t act that way and it’s part of me growing up. I was a young kid, so for me to mature into a man is something I’m trying to do every day.”
His time in Akron has had some promising moments and some bumps in the road as well. He's batting .258 with three home runs and 10 RBI and has added punch to the top of the lineup for manager Dave Wallace. His home run in the home opener was the deciding run in a 3-2 Akron win, but then there was the bat incident, video of which ended up on various national sports websites and proved to be a learning experience because Frazier saw that when he snaps a Louisville Slugger over his knee, the focus is on him instead of his teammates.
Working with the team’s sports psychology staff has been helpful in showing the young slugger how to channel his high-energy ways into positive directions on the field. Frazier insisted none of his conversations with the psychology staff have been about negative topics and that most of their work centers on breathing and learning to control the moment.
“I think that I do a good job with my confidence. I’m not a guy who has to spend a lot of time with the sports psychologist, but they’re really good people, so to have a conversation with them is not a bad thing to do,” Frazier said.
Even before Frazier arrived in Akron, fans had plenty of chances to hear about one of the next big prospects set to pass through Canal Park. Alongside fellow outfielder Bradley Zimmer, Frazier is a glimpse of what Indians fans hope of two future cornerstones of the Cleveland outfield.
He’s happy with his start in Akron and wants to avoid complacency based on any success he has or based on his status as a top draft pick. The key is “staying in your shoes” and not trying to be like anyone else, according to Frazier. The idea that being a top draft pick ensures any sort of future success is one that faded quickly as soon as he cashed his first paycheck and began competing with opponents trying to reach the same goals and doing so by besting him.
“It’s quick … once I signed, I’m equal with everybody else and I have to come out here and perform. Obviously, the attention is a little different in some ways than it is (for) others, but I’m not entitled to anything … I have to come out here and perform,” Frazier said. “It’s an eye-opener, man. You can come out here and think that people owe you their respect for where you’re selected and they’ll humble you in a heartbeat.”
Reach Andy at 330-580-8936 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter: @aharrisBURB